This open-faced eggplant salad sandwich is made with one of my “go to recipes”, which is actually a roasted eggplant dip from Paula Wolfert. As a dip it’s a party pleasing appetizer. A simple combination of roasted eggplants and red bell pepper, mixed with walnuts and ricotta cheese. The result is so tasty that sometimes I like to slather it on good black bread and serve it as a delicious vegetarian lunch or light dinner. Why wait for a party to enjoy this delightful eggplant salad spread.
- 2 ½ pound eggplant (whatever type you prefer)
- 2 red bell pepper
- 2 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (divided)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (well drained)
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning)
- freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- 8 slice black bread (toasted)
- 1 bunch pea tendrils (rinsed and dried)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Pierce the eggplants with a sharp fork in two or three places and place them on a rack set over a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast them in the heated oven until completely soft and the skin is black and blistery, about 50 minutes total depending on size. The longer and slower the roasting, the creamier the eggplant will be.
When the eggplants begin to collapse, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Slice them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out all the flesh, transferring it to a medium bowl. Crush the flesh into a rough puree with a fork.
Meanwhile, blacken the bell peppers by whatever method you prefer. I place a pepper directly on the grate of a single burner on gas stove set to a high, turning the pepper with fire-safe tongs every 1–2 minutes until all sides side are well blackened.
Once the peppers are adequately blackened, toss them into a heat safe bowl and cover. Allow the peppers to steam for 3–4 minutes. Once cool enough to handle rub the blackened skin off with your fingers. It’s okay if you don’t remove all the skin.
Use a small paring knife to slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the center core, stem and seeds. Don’t worry if some of the flesh has been blackened. This will only add to the flavor. Chop one pepper into small dice and mix it with the eggplant. Cut the other pepper into 8 equal sized strips; set aside.
Use a food processor or a mortar and pestle to process the garlic and half the walnuts into a rough puree. Add the ricotta cheese, oil, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste); continue to process until well combined.
Scrape the garlic-walnut mixture in to the eggplant-pepper pulp and mix well. Stir in the remaining walnuts and taste for seasoning.
Lay the toasted black bread out on a surface in front of you. Divide the pea tendrils between all the toasts and top each with some of the eggplant salad. Garnish with the reserved red bell pepper strips. Serve with a good grind of black pepper.